Lisbon is filled with new-wave Portuguese restaurants, old establishments serving classic dishes, and several bars.
Some dishes, sweets and cakes, and even alcoholic drinks, are particularly popular in Lisbon, even though they can be sampled everywhere throughout Portugal.
Of course, Lisbon is a great place to try the whole Portuguese cuisine. However, here we tell you where to sample some of the city’s main specialties:
- Grilled fish (especially grilled sardines)
- Bacalhau (salt cod)
- Bife (steak)
- Pastel de nata (custard tart) accompanied with a bica (espresso)
- Bolo Rei (King’s Cake during Christmas)
- Ginginha (cherry liquor)
Lisbon Specialties and Where to Try Them
Here’s where you can try each of Lisbon’s specialties:
Sardines are served everywhere, especially on Saint Anthony’s Day, but these 5 Fish Restaurants in Lisbon usually have fresh sardines on their menus. Expect 4 to 6 grilled sardines served with boiled potatoes, a salad, and often grilled peppers. Season with Portuguese olive oil.
Having been salt cured, cod is extremely versatile, and in Portugal, we have virtually 1001 differents ways to cook it. Lisbon-style bacalhau à Brás is flaked, pan-fried with potato chips, then enveloped in scrambled egg. The pataniscas de bacalhau (cod fritters) is another another popular cod dish in Lisbon’s restaurants, usually accompanied with bean rice. Here are 7 of the Best Restaurants to Eat Cod in Lisbon.
While a cheap and traditional bitoque (fried steak with french fries, white rice, salad, and a fried egg on top) can be ordered at most restaurants in Lisbon, Café de São Bento, located near the Parliament, specialises in high quality steaks – filet mignon or sirloin steak, served with french fries, and an optional fried egg on top. Here, steaks are served in three different ways: Café de São Bento style comes with a coffee cream sauce, Portuguese style is fried, and finally there’s the conventional grilled steak. To enter the place you have to ring the doorbell.
Pastel de nata
The custard tart is sold in virtually every café in Lisbon, but the original recipe comes from Pastéis de Belém, a patisserie located close to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in the riverside Belém. Eaten at the counter, or seated in the back if you’re lucky to get a table, most locals like the pastel de nata powdered with cinnamon and accompanied with a bica (espresso).
The Bolo Rei is a ring-shaped fruit bread, covered in crystallized fruit and nuts, traditionally eaten at Christmas time. Sold everywhere during the festive season, the original recipe (and for many the best) is from Confeitaria Nacional.
Ginjinha is a cherry liquor to be tried in the Baixa district. Ginjinha do Largo de São Domingos and Ginjinha Sem Rival, both on the northwest corner of the Rossio square, are two century-old bars that will serve you the liquor in a shot glass “com” or “sem” (with or without) a cherry (your choice). Then, you can savour it (we usually do not shot it down) outside the place. Both bars are tiny and not really spaces where you want to hang out.